With three contestants left on "The Voice," each took the stage three times in the final night of performances Monday.
The true highlight of the evening, however, came before the individual finalists even took the stage.
To open the show, the coaches, finalists, past contestants from this season, and even Carson Daly and Christina Millian, came together to sing Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," holding placards of the names and ages of the victims of Friday's Connecticut school shooting.
I want to tell you how much I love this song, laugh about how out-of-place Carson looked on stage surrounded by so much talent, squeal over how nice it was to see MacKenzie's face again.
But I didn't feel any of that. I only felt, like all of us, a sadness too deep to articulate. It was a beautiful, fitting tribute, full of sincerity and love, and it feels awful to follow it with the triteness and snarkiness that it's so easy to fill this blog with.
It's going to take a lot more than a song toheal, but Cohen's melody, and this show of solidarity, is an OK place to start.
Now, to the competition.
Cassadee Pope, Terry McDermott and Nicholas David (seriously almost wrote "Nicholas Cage," because that Freudian slip is a reality show the world needs to see) all revisited their "breakthrough moments," performed a duet with their coach and sang yet another song to bolster iTunes' numbers.
And after all that, (conveniently) the three contestants break down into three categories: who I want to win, who should win, and who will win.
Terry McDermott (See also: Who I Want To Win)
Terry first tackled his duet with his coach, Blake Shelton, and the song choice was a smidge misguided: Terry can rock "Dude Looks Like a Lady" with a shriek that can shame Steven Tyler himself, but Blake ... mildly abysmal. Can a coach actually hold their contestants back? Because I'm pretty sure that's what just happened.
Next up was Terry's take on "Broken Wings" by Mister Mister, which, fun fact, is his son's favorite song. Blake had wanted to "de-80s" the tune, and I don't know how that's possible. It was still Terry's highlight of the night. "Every time you get on stage, something epic happens," Blake said.
Terry's reprisal of his "breakout moment" -- Foreigner's "I Want to Know What Love Is." I disagree that this was the breakout moment (I much rather would have seen "Let It Be" again) but hey, to each his own.
I want Terry to win. Between his adorable son and the look of joy on Terry's face anytime the show surprises him with a family member, I'm sold on Terry as a person. But as much as I love classic rock, I don't think it's sustainable platform on which to win "The Voice."
We still don't really have an idea of what his career would be like after the show, other than classic rock covers, and I don't think that's enough.
Nicholas David (See also: Who Should Win)
Nicholas, by far, has the most talent, and has grown the most, on "The Voice." His duet with Cee Lo ("Play That Funky Music") was pure gold (it even featured a dancing child whose outfit matched Cee Lo’s!). Blake even got into it, too, and there is no joy greater than seeing the whitest man alive sing-along to one of the funkiest songs ever.
Nicholas' new song was Jimi Hendrix's "Fire," and when I say it was hot, I mean it literally -- there were damn pyrotechnics all over the place. With such theatrics, I worried Nicholas would seem out of place, but he owned the song.
The reprisal song, "Lean On Me," was even more beautiful than the first time Nicholas sang it, and was still somehow both stripped-down and lush. Cee Lo was nearly speechless.
"I believe in you," he told Nicholas. "You make me believe."
Cassadee Pope (See also: Who Will Win)
Not surprisingly, Cassadee revisited Blake's song, "Over You," as her breakout moment, which was even more touching than the first time -- or maybe that was just my exhaustion setting in. I always think it's funny when Christina compliments Cassadee, and the first thing she says is in reference to Cassadee’s outfit. I don't understand the legitimacy of a woman in a top hat (Christina) ooohing over a dress that makes the other look like a broken mirror.
Cassadee's duet with Blake was Sheryl Crow's "Steve McQueen," which was such a relief after the mess that was "Dude Looks Like a Lady." Blake's and Cassadee's voices are just much better suited to each others.
Finally, Cassadee took on Faith Hill's "Cry," because the country thing seems to be working for her. It was moving and heart wrenching, and besides, I'm a sucker for fall foliage, so the set design slayed me. No, seriously -- I think this was Cassadee's breakout moment for me, the moment that finally made me sigh and say "alright, she's pretty amazing."
I think I reached a watershed with Cassadee this week. I'm just tired of hating her so much, and the girl can sing -- whether I like her voice or not. I always said I want a girl to finally win "The Voice," and Cassadee is looking like she'll be it. She's got the fan support, she's got the country world converted, and I'm calling it now: she's winning this thing. More power to her.